Within 2 years, Deutsche Bank says rooftop solar will be the cheaper option for everyone

paxus:

While the forecasts are interesting, what i did not realize was that solar was already at grid parity in 10 US states.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

deutsche-us-solar-590x216Deutsche Bank has released a new report predicting that rooftop solar will reach “grid parity” in all 50 states of the U.S. in just two years–by the end of 2016. “Grid parity” means that the cost of obtaining electricity from rooftop solar–including installation–is equal to or less than the cost of obtaining electricity from traditional utilities operating in the state.

This startling conclusion came in an analysis by the Bank’s Vishal Shah, considered a leading solar analyst, of the prospects of Vivint Solar. Vivint is the second largest installer of rooftop solar systems in the U.S. although it currently operates in just seven states. While Deutsche Bank is more bullish on solar prospects that some other investment analysts, as we have been reporting all year just above every major investment firm has released at least one study touting solar’s rapid growth and warning utilities to prepare.

Just a year ago,

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Extended FAQs – Twin Oaks Membership Process

This is number 2 in the randomly occurring series which extends the answer provided in the Twin Oaks website FAQ section.  The first was on personal possessions.  And this post appends to the answer given about our membership process.  That answer is:

Basically, in order to become a member, a person needs to be willing to abide by the agreements of the community (e.g. no personal cars, our income-sharing agreements, and lots more). They also need to be able to fit into our social norms which, because we live so closely together, are quite particular (e.g. being sensitive to people’s “personal space”, being able to pick up social cues, being able to be cooperative and share control, etc).

The process for membership involves an interview with the Membership Team during a Three-Week Visitor Period. The interview consists of telling one’s life story, and answering questions about how one deals with various aspects of community living like conflict, anger, people with different values, etc. Then there is an input period during which all visitors leave Twin Oaks for some time, and have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and decide if they really do think they want to live here. During this time, each member of the community has an opportunity to give input on the visitor (Accept, Visit Again, or Reject for membership). If there are outstanding health (including mental health) issues those will also be taken into consideration. The Membership Team makes the final decision about a visitor becoming a member.

While generally a fine answer, there are all kinds of things missing here.  The first is the complexity of Twin Oak’s own visitor and membership process.  We have no less than three separate teams inside the community to deal with this process.

arms around the globe

Another thing missing from this answer is that pretty consistently for the last 4 years the community has had a waiting list.   This means if you are in a big hurry to live in community (a state i would recommend no one be in) then Twin Oaks might well be a poor choice of places to come.  Some communities permit accepted visitors to stay indefinitely after their visitor period waiting for a space to open up.  Twin Oaks is not like this.  If accepted, expect to wait 3 months to a year.

One of our stronger rules is that after your visitor period (if you are applying for membership) you need to leave the community.  Usually, this is for at least one month.  This is part of our “anti-cult” orientation.  We want you after your visitor period to return to your family and friends.  If they can’t convince you that the idea of joining a commune is a little bit nuts, they you can come.

Don't drink the Koolaid

Don’t drink the Koolaid

And while it is true 95% of the time that that membership team makes the final decision on accepting, rejecting or visiting again a prospective new member, the remaining 5% of the time is interesting to consider.  While i complain about the internal decision making process in the commune, there are numerous well designed components of it.  How do we deal with splits within the community around membership?  A minority of the membership can reject a visitor or provisional member trying to become a full member, but this minority can be overridden by the majority.  One of the clever aspects of this policy is that the larger the minority rejecting someone, the larger the super majority must be to override them.  At something like 27% rejecting a person, it becomes impossible for the majority to override the minorities decision.

One of the community agreements not explicitly mentioned in the above FAQ is working quota.  During your visitor period you will get assigned a bunch of labor, including an incredible number of orientations.  Including these, you need to work your 42 hours of quota a week.  There are all manner of areas you can work in as a visitor.  Reliably the kitchen has cooking or dish washing cleaning help to offer.  We used to train people in hammocks, because they could always fill up their quota in this area.  Though this is less true these days and some visitor groups don;t even learn how to make hammocks these days.  And we are a bit unforgiving in this.  You stay with us three weeks, if you are interested in membership, you better work 42 hours each week – or have some compelling excuse for not working (remember being sick is labor creditable – to a point).  Visitors not making quota consistently lose their ability to apply for membership on that visit.

Another thing to be aware of is the commune has a second process step for people who are interested in membership who are 55 or older.  One of the policies i most dislike is out Age Cap policy.   It comes from an understandable place, when the average age of the community exceeds 43 years of age, we slow our acceptance of older members to not pre-maturely age the community.  And the reason this is relevant is that Twin Oaks has a very clever pension system, which slowly decreases the quota of members over age 49 by one hour per year.

The other membership cap is around gender.  While i think the community is increasingly well educated in the fluidity of gender (strong gender binaries are so twentieth century) we still maintain an existentialist policy when it comes to capping lopsided gender balances.  Specifically, if we end up with more than 60% male, we cap our admissions of men until we become more balanced.   It would be true for females as well, but this is not really our problem or any of the other FEC communities.  For slightly inexplicable reasons, many fewer women apply for membership at Twin Oaks and of those who do apply, a significantly smaller fraction of those we accept decide to come.  On the positive side of this imbalance (again for inexplicable reasons) women tend to have longer memberships on average then men.

Fortunately, in the 16 years i have been hanging around Twin Oaks, we have never hit this 60%/40% ratio, so unlike the age cap we have not implemented a gender cap to membershiping visitors.  Unfortunately, East Wind has not been so lucky and has had well over 60% male membership for a long time, which gets in the way of the problem correcting itself.

 

Our membership process is more complex

Our membership process is complex and carefully balanced

For a look at some of the other restrictions Twin Oaks puts on it’s member, take a look at this post on our most controversial approval.

 

 

Is storage the new solar? And other news from our solar future…

paxus:

On the failure of the media to keep up with the changes in solar power and the implications for old style utilities

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Ramping-Up-Renewables-Infographic_FINAL_Full-Size-Panel-1-Web-VersionIt wasn’t that long ago–what, just seven, eight years ago now–that solar power was considered, justifiably, an expensive niche technology. Sure, environmentally solar power has always reigned supreme and there were enough people wanting clean energy for their homes to keep the industry in business, but solar was just too costly for mainstream use.

But behind the scenes, the technology was improving and its costs began dropping. China went into solar in a big way, further reducing costs through mass production. Germany’s long switch to renewables, accelerated by Fukushima, meant another giant market for solar, and solar’s costs didn’t just drop over the past several years, they plummeted.

Indeed, they’ve dropped so far so fast most people still don’t realize what has happened. No wonder then that a public opinion poll released this week found 70% of Americans still say cost is a barrier to their installation of solar power.

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The Other Way to Play

The game of Dominion is fairly popular at the commune.  It is a dynamic card game, and a sister of Magic in that you build decks and the rules are changing all the time.  These kinds of game are pretty complex and they are part of our informal home schooling curriculum.  The fact that our kids want to play, because our adults are playing and because if they play well they can be peers to the adults, are big pluses.

Don't worry if you can't understand it.

Don’t worry if you can’t understand it.

When i first started playing Dominion with Sami he was not yet 5.  Despite being involved in his home school efforts, i dont keep track of where kids are in the educational process by what age they are at.  It is just not something i think about.

One evening Sami and some older kids wanted to play Dominion.  We each choose some of the perhaps 200 different card types we have in the various expansions so we could create a game.  Sami choose a couple of card types he liked as did everyone else.  There was a bit of negotiating to get some better game dynamics on the board.  All friendly negotiations.

Sami at Unicorns Today

Sami at Unicorns School Today

Sami played well, i barely beat him and i was the overall winner.  He got more points than several other kids and adults.

I was talking with Ezra, Sami’s dad, the following day (who Sami had recently beaten) and complimenting his clever kid.  “Yeah, it is pretty impressive.” Confessed Ez.  “Given that he can’t read the cards.”

“What?” i said

“He can’t read yet.  But he really wanted to play.  So he memorized all the cards so he could play.”  Ez explained.

“But there are like 200 different cards, and some are crazy complicated.” i was amazed.

“Like i said, he really wanted to play.”

Ezra, Sami and Zadek and NYC skyline - Circa 2014

Ezra, Sami and Zadek and NYC skyline – Circa 2014

 

 

 

“Any way they can.”

It was the bad old days of the Reagan Administration.  i was living in Santa Cruz and rapidly ditching my liberal Democrat roots and becoming an anarcho-feminist.

 

fall in love not in line

Reagan wanted to reward his campaign contributing oil company friends.  So he proposed permitting off shore oil leases on the California coast.  This was fantastically unpopular among Californians.

free fools voltaire

Still Reagan wanted to pretend that there was concern for the public’s opinion and he sent his secretary of Interior, Don Hodel to talk with the people of Santa Cruz.  Hodel brought with him some oil company PR flacks who showed how this oil 1) was desperately needed and 2) how the major oil companies had a great record with safe recovery of oil from off shore and 3) had no real alternative.  The audience was totally not buying it.

 

Prof Rabbit and Brother Rabbit

Prof Rabbit and Brother Rabbit

At the last minute Rabbit and i decided to go to the public hearing.  It was jammed.  So was the list of people who wanted to comment critically on the presentations of the oil companies and the secretary of the interior.

Rabbit was not deterred.  He went up and spoke to the moderator of the event.  He promised he would talk for less than 30 seconds.  He would wait for his moment and when the moderator signaled him he we jump up quickly.  The moderator being a flexible Santa Cruz type permitted this extraordinary action.

When Rabbits 15 seconds of super stardom was signaled he jumped to the podium.  “Secretary Hodel, as you can tell by the comments in this room the plan for off shore oil drilling is fantastically unpopular here in California.  So i have just two things to say to you.  1) There are some people in this room who will stop you any way they legally can”

common way to give up power - ALice Walker

“2) And there are other people in this room, who will stop you anyway they can.”  Rabbit bounded from the room and it took the moderator well over 30 seconds to get the room to calm down.

No additional oil drilling took place off the California coast.

 

 

 

The Anarchists and the Bankers

By GPaul Blundell
If you really want to learn how to make organizations work, try organizing demanding and productive consensus based organizations composed of feisty and opinionated anarchists.  Rewards, punishments, and hierarchies are convenient crutches that you just don’t get to use.  This is our theory on why the FEC communities generate process consultants and facilitation trainers.  It’s like Frank Herbert’s theory of the Sardaukar but with group process.This summer I had the pleasure of visiting Las Indias, an anarchist transnational cyberpunk commune currently based in Bilbao.  Delightful folks, really.  They, like many other modern communards, have gotten into the organizational consultation business and operate a worker coop providing consultation.

Somewhere in Bilboa

Somewhere in Bilboa

Over the years, they’ve been hired by a long list of impressive and, for an anarchist collective, unlikely seeming clients.  Then, in 2006, they were approached by one the biggest banks in Latin America and Spain.  It was suffering from organizational malaise and wanted help for fueling innovation in its ranks.  Las Indias took the job and, after analyzing the situation, decided, like the good transnational anarchists that they are, that the bank was suffering from two major ills: they had too much hierarchy and they were too divided nationally.  The prescription was simple and radical.  They insisted that the bank stuff -more than 120,000 workers- should learn to talk and work out of the hierarchy with a focus in internal open conversations rather than communication segregated by nation or department.

And so they built up the first internal blogsphere used by a big multinational corporation.  And what did they see?  According to Las Indias, the new open transnational space immediately started fostering innovation and quickly six new products where designed by volunteer teams. What is probably even more important: the conversation changed the atmosphere and allowed a collective and wider reflection on including differing perspectives.

eyes surreal

As part of this wave of rediscovery, with workers rediscovering their own environment and the future living inside and around it, the bank financed the first book series of collected of essays by living authors released under Public Domain in Europe. The books, on such at-the-time arcane subjects as P2P systems, the sharing economy, and workers’ transnational cooperativism, were both free for download as ebooks and as a paper edition. The commercial success of the print version was a rare and surprising success in the Spanish editorial scene: even though everybody had the option to have them for free as e-books, thousands of copies of every single title were sold in traditional bookshops.

However, anarchist transnationalist organization was a bit too much for the bank in the long run. The “Innovation Department” who contracted las Indias closed (their members were all promoted) and the bank turned progressively towards a flashier policy of buying dotcom businesses and trying to integrate them into the existing organization. Emphasis on internal conversation was decreased and emphasis on promoting external blogs and marketing was increased. In 2010, after a few years as a successful but then orphaned experiment, they closed the internal blogosphere, the first massive conversational space in a big worldwide organization.

monkey with gun

The bank weathered Spain’s financial crisis in 2008 relatively unscathed. Las Indias suspects that the reflection and innovations fueled by the open conversations had outside of the structure of the hierarchy helped them to avoid dangerous policies then common in other banks. Las Indias walked away from the project, but with a recognized and salable experience that later opened doors for them to more big institutions and businesses of the European Union and Latin America.

Details on October 18th Community Matchmaking event in Brooklyn

We are excited that you are considering coming to the Community Matchmaking event we are organizing at the BUZ at 778 Bergen St in Brooklyn on October 18th. This email has several things in it

  • Schedule of events
  • Suggestions for the Potluck Brunch
  • Fictitious (almost correct) workshop descriptions
  • A bit about the Point A project which is hosting the event.

10 to noon Potluck brunch and discussion of workshops

12:30 to 1 Discussion about Point A in NYC and what we have learned so far

1 to 2 Meet The Communities/Collectives session

2 to 3:30 first workshop block – the one we are asking you to be in

3:30 to 4 Group discussion and harvesting actionable stuff from w/s block if any

4 to 5 community speed dating

5 to 5:45 free networking

5:45 til 6 next steps and evaluation.

easter-brunch2

Pot Luck Brunch – This optional get together before the content portion of the event would happily help feed you. Please do not bring bagels or coffee (we have that covered) or salsa and chips (since folks always bring that). Please do feel especially encouraged to bring vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Workshops – These are approximations of what workshops will be given by which of our many allied groups. Actual content may vary.

Can a residential worker collective become a commune? [Presented by the 3B collective – Brooklyn Bed and Breakfast] Workers collectives are critical alternative economic engines for community business. The success of the 3B collective should be inspiring to other folks interested in breaking out of the regular work-a-day world.

screaming-fear face and hands

Should community be afraid of artists? [Presented by someone from Flux Factory] A huge fraction of New Yorkers consider themselves artists. And many collective projects have collapsed because artists involved needed to extract themselves from the group effort to pursue their artistic vision. What at the possibilities for collaborative art? How can collectives embrace artists?

How do you income-share in NYC? [Presented by someone from Ganas Community on Staten Island] One of the few income sharing communities in NYC tells the story of what they did to succeed and the current challenges they face.

How to Start an Eco-Village [Presented by folks from the forming Catalyst Ecovillage in Warwick NY] What are the important trade offs in designing an eco-village? What assistance programs are available to help finance forming eco-villages? What design principals and decision making systems have worked well?

swarm theory

Swarms to find housing: lessons from occupy [Presented by James Andrews of OWS] Bees and Ants have complex systems for finding or relocating hives. These models have useful lessons which were being investigated and modified for humans towards the end of the Occupy.

Free Schools & Kids learning in Community [Presented by Go Collective and Twin Oaks Community Unicorn School] Is curriculum optional? Can student directed learning prepare kids for state required standard of learning tests? What does homeschooling look like from inside an intentional community.

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